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WILDLIFE HARVEST AND POPULATION STATUS REPORT 

RING-NECKED PHEASANT - 2006 

John H. Schulz 
Resource Scientist 

2005-06 PHEASANT HUNTING SEASON 

In 2005, 11,215 pheasant hunters killed 31,204 pheasants statewide; a 5.5% decrease in hunters 
and a 21.6% increase in harvest from 2004 (Figure 1). The estimated 2005 pheasant harvest decreased 
0.7% from the 5-year average (2000-04; 31,430 average harvest; SD 7,567) and decreased 31.6% from 
the 10-year average (1995-04; 45,605 average harvest; SD 17,478). In 2005, pheasant hunters averaged 
0.56 birds per day and 4.96 days per season compared to 0.60 birds per day and 3.92 days per season in 
2004. Average season bag for 2005 was 2.78 birds which was a 28.7% increase compared to 2004. 
Regional harvest data for 2005 showed Northwestern Prairie had the highest estimated harvest (14,668 
birds) and Mississippi Lowlands the lowest (0 birds; Figure 2). During 2005, Northwestern Prairie had 
the greatest number of hunters (4,705) with Mississippi Lowlands the lowest (42); hunters in the 
Northwestern Prairie spent 5.76 days pheasant hunting compared to 3.64 days in the Mississippi 
Lowlands. 
2006 POPULATION SURVEYS 

The Department annually cooperates with more than 450 rural mail carriers in mid- April to 
monitor the relative distribution of spring pheasant populations in northern and southeastern Missouri; 
these data also provide a relative with-in year distribution range map. The 2006 Rural Mail Carrier 
Survey (RMCS) reported 259 pheasants with an index of 0.64 birds per 100 miles (Figure 3). 

The August Roadside Survey (ARS) monitors the number of pheasants and pheasant broods 
observed along standardized 30-mile routes, and has provided a fairly reliable predictor of fall pheasant 
harvests in previous years. The 2006 statewide results for the number of pheasants observed showed a 
65.0% increase compared to 2005, a 149.5% increase compared to the 5-year average (2001-05), and a 
102.7% increase from the 10-year average (1996-05; Table 1; Figure 4). Pheasant production in 2006, as 
determined by the number of broods observed, increased 90.0% compared to 2005, increased 291.8% 
compared to the 5-year average (2001-05), and increased 154.2% from the 10-year average (1996-05; 
Table 1). Regionally, Northwestern Prairie had the highest index of pheasants observed (7.00 birds/30 
miles) and Mississippi Lowlands the lowest (0.00 birds/30 miles). 

During 1988-06, there was a strong relationship (r=0.83) between ARS and fall pheasant harvest 
indicating that ARS may often provide a relatively good predictor of harvest for the upcoming fall season 
(Figure 3). With this in mind, statewide 2006 pheasant hunting opportunities are expected to be 
noticeably improved compared to the 2005 season, and better than the previous 5- and 10-year averages. 
Expect hunting opportunities to be best in the Northwestern Prairie, above average in the Northern 



Riverbreaks and the Northeastern Riverbreaks, and poor in the Mississippi Lowlands. Although increases 
in the number of pheasants and pheasant broods observed in some areas around the state were recorded 
this year (Table 1), these relative trend values are still noticeably below trend values observed in other 
Midwestern states that comprise the primary pheasant range. For example, comparable data from Iowa' s 
August Roadside Survey for 2006 showed 27.9 birds/30 mile route, so caution should be exercised when 
interpreting the increases in Missouri from this year (4.72 birds/30 mile route). Hunting opportunities 
will vary depending upon severe localized weather events during the nesting and brood-rearing season, 
and the resulting effects of those weather conditions on habitat. 
PHEASANT RANGE EXPANSION PROGRAM 

The Department attempted to expand the pheasant range in 14 northern Missouri counties by 
relocating wild trapped birds during 1987-00; all 23 targeted sites have been completed (Table 2). 
Evaluation data indicates mixed results. Some release sites showed relatively high numbers of crowing 
males along survey routes adjacent to the release sites, and showed some birds expanding into 
surrounding areas. Some releases showed relatively show relatively good numbers of birds around the 
release site, but the birds did not become numerous enough to be observed by rural mail carriers. Other 
release sites showed perpetually low numbers of birds that never disappeared, but never established 
thriving wild populations. Some releases were classified as failures for various reasons. 



Table 1 . The number of pheasants and broods observed along 30- mile routes in August by zoogeographic 
region, and relative change through time. 



Zoogeographic Region 


2006 


% 

Change 

From 2005 


% Change From 5- 

Year Mean 

(2001-05) 


% Change From 10- 
Year Mean 
(1996-05) 


Nortliwestern Prairie 

Total Pheasants 
Production Index 


7.00 
1.18 


8.7 

25.5 


73.1 
118.5 


64.3 
104.20 


Northern Riverbreaks 

Total Pheasants 
Production Index 


2.17 
0.17 


68.2 
21.4 


-2.3 
-43.3 


-21.9 

-52.5 


Northeastern Riverbreaks 

Total Pheasants 
Production Index 


4.20 
0.60 


49.7 
62.2 


127.5 
240.9 


143.2 
195.6 


Mississippi Lowlands 

Total Pheasants 
Production Index 


n/a' 
n/a 


n/a 
n/a 


n/a 
n/a 


n/a 
n/a 


STATEWIDE 

Total Pheasants 
Production Index 


4.72 
0.76 


65.0 
90.0 


149.5 
291.8 


102.7 
154.2 



Data from the southeastern Mississippi Lowlands region continue to be recorded as zero (0) number of pheasants per 30-mile 
survey routes; relative changes from year-to-year would be meaningless. 



Table 2. Release sites and numbers of wild-trapped pheasants per release, 1987-00. 



RELEASE AREA 


COUNTY 


COMPLETED 


NO. BIRDS (M:F) 


SOURCE OF BIRDS 


Novelty 


Knox 


1989 


226(66:145) 
(15 unk. sex) 


Squaw Creek NWR 
Nebraska 


*Franklin Island 


Howard 


1989 


178(58:120) 


Squaw Creek NWR 
Mar. Tern. Clair CA 


New Cambria 


Macon 


1990 


100 (30:70) 


Kansas 


*Ardmore 


Macon 


1990 


138(53:85) 


Squaw Creek NWR 
Kansas 


Hannibal 


Marion 


1990 


123(22:101) 


Squaw Creek NWR 
Bilby Ranch CA 

Bob Brown CA 


Smileyville 


Marion 


1990 


97(21:76) 


Kansas 


Kaseyville 


Randolph 
Macon 


1991 


143(34:109) 


Nebraska 


Clifton Hill 


Randolph 


1991 


144(34:110) 


Nebraska 


Bethel 


Shelby 


1991 


143(33:110) 


Bilby Ranch CA 
Grand Pass CA 
Bob Brown CA 


Glasgow 


Howard 
Chariton 


1991 


141 (27:114) 


Kansas 


Salisbury 


Chariton 


1991 


135(25:110) 


Kansas 


Rothville 


Chariton 


1993 


112(19:93) 


Bob Brown CA 
South Dakota 


Mendon 


Chariton 


1993 


135 (38:97) 


South Dakota 
Mo. Private Land 


Bogard 


Carroll 


1993 


123 (33:90) 


South Dakota 


Roads 


Carroll 


1993 


121 (23:98) 


South Dakota 
Mo. Private Land 


Plymouth 


Carroll 


1994 


176(23:153) 


South Dakota 
Mo. Private Land 


Regal 


Ray 


1994 


219(39:180) 


South Dakota 


Stet 


Ray 


1994 


179(54:125) 


South Dakota 


Braley 


Clinton 


1996 


141(28:113) 


South Dakota 


West Keystone 


Clinton 


1996 


165(27:138) 


South Dakota 


Starfield 


Clinton 


1996 


173(40:133) 


South Dakota 


Plattsburg 


Clinton 


1996 


156(19:137) 


South Dakota 


Wexford 


Clinton 


2000 


116(32:84) 


South Dakota 



♦Release sites classified as failures. 



Missouri Plieasant Hunters and Harvest 



30000 



25000 




1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 

Year 



-Harvest — —Hunters 



Figure 1 . Number of ring-necked pheasant hunters and harvest estimated by the small-game post-season harvest 
mail survey (1967-05). 



ZOOGEOGRAPHIC REGIONS 

N. RIVERBREAKS 



N. W. PRAIRIE 



W. OZARK 
BORDER 



N. E. 
RIVERBREAKS 




Figure 2. Zoogeographic Regions of Missouri. 



2006 MISSOURI SPRING PHEASANT DENSITIES 



FROM RURAL MAIL CARRIER SURVEYS 




Pheasants/too miles 



0.1 - 0.9 



Not Surveyed 



^ 



1.0 - 1.9 



Figure 3. Relative distribution of Missouri spring pheasant populations derived from 487 completed rural mail 
carrier surveys, during April 2006. 



Missouri Plieasant Trends 




■s: 60000 

(A 
0) 
> 50000 



(0 
X 40000 



1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 

Year 



— Harvest August Count 

Figure 4. Estimated ring-necked pheasant tiarvest from tJie small-game post-season harvest mail survey (1983- 
05)and relative population trends from the August Roadside Survey (1983-06).